Nirmala Sitharaman Won’t Present A Full-Fledged Budget This Year; What’s The Reason?

The 17th Lok Sabha’s final and short Budget session will take place from January 31 to February 9.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the interim budget for 2024-25 on February 1 during the session.

However, she will not table the full budget in the Parliament, but only a vote on account or interim budget in the House.

The reason for not presenting a full budget this year

The Union government presents an Interim Budget in an election year, which shows the expected revenues and expenditures until a new government comes to power. This interim budget helps the government to meet its financial commitments.

A new and complete Budget will be announced in July after the formation of the new government. An Interim Budget is also called a ‘vote-on-account’.

According to Article 116 of the Constitution, a “vote on account” means a preliminary allocation from the Consolidated Fund of India to the government, meant to cover its short-term expenses.

How Interim budget differ from a full-fledged Budget? An Interim Budget gives the government’s projected income and spending until the new government is formed. On the other hand, a full-fledged Budget covers all aspects of government finances, such as income, expenditure, allocations, and policy statements.

A detailed annual Budget acts as a strategic plan, showing the economic direction of a country during the fiscal year. Whereas, an interim budget provides financial details for the interim period.

The Election Commission of India also imposes some restrictions on Interim Budgets to ensure no unfair influence on the voters. The government cannot suggest major taxes or policy changes in the budget as it can sway voters in favour of the ruling party.

Usually, the government refrains from making significant announcements during a “vote on account”, even though there is no constitutional ban on doing so.

In December, Sitharaman had said that there would be no “spectacular announcement” for her sixth budget on February 1 this year, as it would be just a “vote on account” before the general elections.

“No spectacular announcements come in that time (in a vote on account). So you will have to wait till after the new government comes in and presents the next full Budget in July 2024,” the minister had said while answering a question about a “supercharged budget” at the CII Global Economic Policy Forum.